Switching And Inventory

by Ron Gilbert
Mar 09, 2015

It's Monday again (or will be by the time I get done writing this, play some games, watch some TV, and go to bed and get some sleep), so it's time for a new video!

The latest engine features to get checked off "the TODO list" are character switching and picking stuff up and sticking it in the inventory.

There is no UI for the character switching yet, and we don't know exactly how we're going to do it, but it's completely functional. Maniac Mansion had a New Kid verb that displayed a list of the kids that you would then click on to switch. We don't have the space for another verb, so we're thinking of an icon in the upper corner that shows the current character and clicking on it pops down a list of icons for the other characters. We don't want to clutter up the screen with icons and menus and other none-authentic crap , so it will take some time to visually figure this out.

The character switching UI is a good example of a task that "can wait". The keys give us all the functionality we need to progress on the core of the game. My development philosophy is to make a quick pass at the whole game, get everything functional and then add and polish in waves. We'll talk about this more over the next few weeks as we put together the playable storyboard version of the game.

For now, you just hit the 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 keys (those will work in the final game as well). Whatever we do, I promise there won't be a bouncy floating arrow above the selected character's head and you won't run around collecting in-game currency in the form of little floating coins or stars.

The second item checked off this week was the inventory. Characters can now can pick up objects that can be used in the construction of sentences.

Bank <-
    background = "Bank"

    ... snip ...

    bankFlyer =
        icon = "bank_flyer"  // Need a better way to specify this. Hack for now.
        name = "Bank Flyer"
        verbLookAt = function()
            currentActor.say("'Open an account TODAY and get a FREE toaster.'")

    bankFlyerHolder =
        name = "Bank Flyers"
        flyers_left = 1
        verbLookAt = function()
            if (flyers_left) {
                currentActor.say("It's a stack of promotional bank flyers.")
            } else {
                currentActor.say("It's empty.")
        verbPickup = function()
            if (flyers_left) {
                flyers_left -= 1
                if (flyers_left == 0) {
                    setObjectState(bankFlyerHolder, EMPTY// pickupObject might do this by default in the future.
            } else {

    ... snip ...


The one thing I have left to do with the inventory is USE obj WITH obj.

I probably should have gotten USE/WITH working for the video, but I lost 3 days last week to GDC. On a side note: Brian Moriarty's talk on LOOM™ was great and I don't know that I've ever been called a SCUMMLord(™?) before.

So, Gary and I have been working on Thimbleweed Park for about 8 weeks now and the engine has made great progress, but I still go through these episodes of panic over how little time I think we have left. I have to stop myself and look at how much has happened in a very short time and that we have 16 months left. I do feel good about where we are and we're laying a solid foundation that will (hopefully!) pay off down the road. We're actually in a really good place right now.

Now... I'm sure the project will go to hell at some point. All projects do, it's part of the process of making a game. I don't think I've ever made a game that didn't feel like a big giant steaming unfinishable pile of crap at some point during it's development.

Rest assured, when Thimbleweed Park does goes to hell, we'll blog about it, so at least you'll get some entertainment and/or educational value out of the meltdown.

Then we'll fix it.

But that's a few months down the road so we're trying to enjoying the fun part of the project while it lasts.

Beginnings are always fun, then there is the boring time, then you go though the dark period, then it becomes fun again, then super stressful, then you ship the game and you never want to see it again, then you come back to it years later and realize it was a pretty damn good game.

On one last note... please help spread the word about the Thimbleweed Park dev blog and if there is anything Gary and I can do to make it better, please let us know.

- Ron

Jeepika - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:02
Regarding the character swapping UI, there could be a smaller inventory UI, say only three columns instead of four, and the swap character icon on the far right.
Greetings from Argentina!

Pietz - Mar 09, 2015 at 14:06
yes. swapping on the right side is intitive like everywhere. please don't stick to the left side with the "scrollbar".

MarcusG - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:05
Lasers. You need 'em. Everything is better with Lasers.

Uli Kusterer - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:12
Curious: Why do you have "Open" and "Close" separate? Since they're usually mutually exclusive, I'd expect you could just change the word depending on what the mouse is over. That might even free room for a "New Kid" item. Also, did you ever mention why you're not going with a UI where the verbs pop up from the bottom (a la Sam & Max's inventory, or even Myst). Not "classic" enough? Would save space.

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:23
Getting rid of verbs is a slippery slope. Once you do one, you are quickly back at just a USE verb, which is where adventures quickly went in the mid-90s. We're doing this as a "classic" point & click adventure, so part of the fun/challenge for us is to keep the verbs. The Interface has already been simplified from what appeared in Maniac Mansion, as this is the Monkey Island verb and UI.

I do think adventures games lost something when they lost verbs, I'm not 100% what that is and that's part of the experiment that is Thimbleweed Park.

Dominik - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:36
That is so reassuring to hear! Thank you a million times. This should be printed on large posters and sent to every adventure game developer world wide. I hate those stupid dummed down one-click interfaces!

For me, verbs represent possibilities. On the hand hand they make the interaction scheme look more complex and on the other hand they are great for hilarious object-verb combinitations. Like "Push corpse".... "Open corpse" - I love it! It's the adventure game equivalent of a treasure chest behind a waterfall - which should be a law or something...

The only thing that I would find interesting, at least as a concept: Having a character-specific-verb:

Clown -> "Squirt" ("Squirt water" on "corpse")
Detective -> "Shoot"

That being said - it could be solved the same way as with the character switching: By fixed character specific inventroy items.

peer - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:54
"Open corpse" was the one comment I was missing in Amigaventures Deja Vu - It took me month to find the missing key inside the corpse. The rest I solved on a weekend (Its an easy game), but Ill never forget the "Open corpse"-puzzle - I have basiccly given up on the game by that point and just trying random things...

Loved Uninvited though...

Dominik - Mar 09, 2015 at 12:02
Ahhh, trying everything on/with everything! Even though sometimes annoying (because it means you're stuck) it's still right up there with pixel hunting and is a virtue which is today almost forgotten ;-)

Mathias Berglund - Mar 09, 2015 at 15:27
I do love the verbs as well. Seeing Tim Schafer play Day of the Tentacle coming up to the safe behind the painting springs to mind. At the same time I kind of think that only ever having one verb usage combination with an object or npc doesn't use the system to it's full potental. The hard part perhaps is to implement that as some puzzlesolutions might be ruined after starting to manipulate things in a certain direction.

Tramboi - Mar 10, 2015 at 04:29
I do think adventures games lost something when they lost text parser, but in the end, I think it all depends on the raw number of smart comments when you try things out of the critical path.
If a game only displays the "open" and "close" default fallbacks when trying them on everything, it might get tedious.
(I think this was a concern for some people about the voiceovers, they thought it would reduce the sheer quantity of snarky and delicous writing :) )

Pedram - Mar 10, 2015 at 15:24
I agree 100%. It becomes too easy somehow. Also, the verbs were often times used in non-obvious ways, especially "open". "Push Clown" in Day of the Tentacle was one of my favorite. "Pick Up" dog in Monkey Island 2 was my least favorit.

Jammet - Mar 11, 2015 at 07:32
You are absolutely right.

In my words - what was lost was a few things. When I was a boy, and Maniac Mansion and Zak were out, I kept saying to my friends, "You have to see these games! You can do EVERYTHING YOU WANT in them!".

So even while you'll just get a "That doesn't seem to work" message again and again and again, trying to do whatever you please -- there is a lot of humor to be had in here. Yes, it's childish but we loved to try and PUSH characters around and see if they react, we tried to OPEN all kinds of devices, we would READ every object just hoping there'd be some labeling, we'd TALK to objects if only we could, we'd try to GIVE random items to characters just to see what they have to say about that, .. and then there are other hilarious things and brainless jokes that many people may not find funny at all.

Generally trying to do as much nonsense in a game as you can get away with, because you can do *anything* you want! It was so incredibly fun to play that game even when you tried to play it without making any sense.

Remember how many people say that reading a book gets your imagination going?
You have these verbs in front of you ... all the time. They are potential to fuel your imagination. Even these simple verbs have you constantly looking at them, and the game world - and it's like you can see yourself trying out all the coolest or stupidest combinations.

These verbs, even if it's only 9 if them now ... they instill the feeling that can do it. All of it.

Uli Kusterer - Mar 13, 2015 at 14:35
Fully agree you shouldn't get rid of all verbs. I always loved being able to build phrases, but swapping out mutually exclusive items seems like a simple way. Alternately, you could of course always use the conversation interface to switch between characters, as in walking up to the other character, talking to them and asking whether they can help you would switch characters. Not suitable or a bit inconvenient for riddles that require two characters to alternate doing things in different locations, but would save you extra UI and would make it more natural.

Dominik - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:28
I love the post that come with a video! (Well, actually, there wasn't a single post that wasn't interesting in this blog).

For the switching: You could have the switchable characters as "items" in the inventory and switch by "using" them.

I know it's not really a priority right now, but it bugs me that there are no crude 8-bit sound effects. The videos feel weird because they already look so great that they trick my brain into thinking it's already a playable game that I feel baffeld that there is no sound. I check my volume settings every time! Damn you Silent Park!

One question: You specify the icon for the bankFlyer object in the code of the bank room. But wouldn't that be a problem if you load a save game where you have the bankFlyer but are outside the bank? (so the bank room hasn't been loaded yet in the current play session?)

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:53
The inventory icons come from a separate place than the room images. But even if they didn't, the engine is smart enough to load the needed images, even if you're not in the room.

Leandro - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:35
Amazing Progress in just 8 Weeks ! Looks Great Already !

Dominik - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:38
Last post for this thread, I promise! (OK, I am not really promising anything):
Can we please have F5 as a key binding for a good old load/save dialog?

Vegetaman - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:44
I think all large scale project development goes through that middle "dark" period, Ron. You start out excited, you get your debug stuff working or your first deployment to target and work on some peripherals and you can see stuff happen then it is exciting! But then you spend weeks/months on middleware minutia and you go "ugh, this will never end" and it breaks other stuff you already implemented... Then finally you see the finish line and start to put the final touches on, and you cheer up about it again. The true software development life cycle.

Koen - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:45
Have you considered the character switching UI of Day of the Tentacle? Maniac Mansion 2 made room for it ;)

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 14:31
I think that takes up too much UI space. I'd rather see more inventory. Plus, we have 5 switchable character, so that would be 4 portraits.

Brian S - Mar 09, 2015 at 15:58
How about just clicking on the character you are currently.

KJL3000 - Mar 09, 2015 at 18:59
Maybe if the portrait boxes would only take half the width of an inventory box? Then you´d only "lose" two inventory boxes, but there´s immediate access to all the other characters... ? I  did a quick and dirty gif, if that´s ok, to see if it could actually work (together with the idea of a changing UI color for each character): http://i.imgur.com/Fb3jV3e.gif What do you think?

Derrick Reisdorf - Mar 10, 2015 at 02:11
I think that each time you unlock a new character, a small icon will become available with that character's picture on the top right of the screen.  At most, there would be a row of 4 character icons.  I suppose you could include all 5 characters- the active character's icon would be highlighted in some way.  It would be quick to click on whichever character you wanted to switch to, instead of having to cycle through characters.  Perhaps, you could allow the player to instead position the character selector in the top-middle or top-left instead of the default top-right position.

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 10, 2015 at 03:56
That's a good mockup, but I still would prefer to have more space for items.

KJL3000 - Mar 10, 2015 at 05:47
Ok, what about this: a toggle switch or tabs to switch from inventory to characters and back (maybe the inventory box could pop up again when a character has been selected...) So no more lost inventory space! :) Tab Version here: http://i.imgur.com/f9ENSXq.gif ... what do you think?

KJL3000 - Mar 10, 2015 at 06:40
... oh and a hotkey to toggle the tabs (tab / alt-tab) could speed up things :)

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 11, 2015 at 07:28
Looks like it might work.

Momomomo - Mar 13, 2015 at 17:11
Both of your mockups are quite good :) (ui color change included). I prefer the little heads one... I don't mind losing one inventory column.

Jammet - Mar 11, 2015 at 07:21
How about holding the right mouse button and getting a COIN-style selector with their faces and names in a radial menu?

Jammet - Mar 11, 2015 at 07:43
Or holding the right mouse button and the entire Verb/Inventory Area will be replaced by their faces (w/ names below), and when you release the mouse key hovering over one of them, -switch-.

Derrick Reisdorf - Mar 11, 2015 at 17:23
I think that when you switch to characters that are in the same room, the new character should have some kind of flashing/glowing outline for a moment to indicate that you switched to that character.
You could do that, some other funky effect, or have each character's UI personalized with color or design or whatever else.

Juan Pablo "Zak McKracken" Bettini - Mar 09, 2015 at 11:45
Offtopic question: which blog framework are you using?? I like it's simplicity! :P

Wes - Mar 09, 2015 at 12:59
For character-switching you should totally do an alt-tab style thing, that looks like an even more retro version of the UI from Windows 3.1 (aka: CoolSwitch! :P). Maybe hijack ctrl-tab? You know, because retro.

Fulvio - Mar 09, 2015 at 13:00
Ron, any chance we'll see one day this awesome engine open-sourced? :)

hoerry - Mar 09, 2015 at 13:01
One thing you should maybe consider (if you haven't already), is to have different colored U.I for each character. That way you would immediately know which character you're playing as (especially when you might accidentally press a wrong number).

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 13:39
Hmmm... I like that idea.

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 09, 2015 at 14:57
That's a good idea! :-) I wish I had thought of that.

Hodge - Mar 09, 2015 at 16:28
Yeah, I love this idea.

Marc - Mar 10, 2015 at 03:11
Hey! That's what I was gonna say!

Damian - Mar 11, 2015 at 06:17
I was just going to suggest that!
I was even going to tell that maybe the verb/inventory colors could match that character's dialog color.

Snowman - Mar 09, 2015 at 14:06
I'm curious why you have both a "flyers_left" and object state "EMPTY" for the flyers holder. From over here, it appears to be redundant information.

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 14:11
They serve two different functions. flyers_left is a variable that keeps count of the number of flyers in the holder. EMPTY is an animation state for the graphics.  Also, this is just test code, so I'm playing around with things trying to figure out how I want to do it.

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 09, 2015 at 14:52
Ron, according to a rumor (that I start now) you will
have a contest for this game and I think that's great.
We get to come up with a line for a character and then
you include the winning line in Thimbleweed Park. They
had a contest for the first Transformers movie where
you would come up with a line for Optimus Prime and
then he would say it in the movie.

I couldn't sleep so I thought of some lines for the
characters to say when they look at the painting
in the bank:

It wouldn't look better in 3D.

Looks like da Vinci's mugshot.

This really brings out the pain in PAINting.

It could scare away bank robbers.

A drunk painter met a drunk banker...

The frame must be worth more than the painting.

Regarding the clock in the bank:

I can feel heat, it must be overclocked or summertime.

It's relative like my relatives.

An alarm clock so the teller won't fall asleep.

Is this Big Ben?

The clock is right twice a day.

I'm late for my first day of school.

I think it would be funny if there's a store
in Thimbleweed Park that's selling alibis.
Alibi $10

Alex - Mar 09, 2015 at 15:05
I'm curious, will you be able to pass inventory items between party members using the Give verb? Will doing so be necessary? Keep up the good work, you've inspired me to give my extremely unprofessional go at an adventure game in Game Maker!

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 15:12
Yes to both questions, just like in Maniac Mansion.

P.S. I suppose it might be possible to play a "perfect game" and not have to transfer items between characters, but that very unlikely and probably not very efficient.

Brian S - Mar 09, 2015 at 15:56
.. and probably not as fun.

Joost - Mar 10, 2015 at 04:02
"Perfect Game"
That sounds like it could be an achievement.

Christopher Griffin - Mar 10, 2015 at 12:29
Even though this is supposed to be an old-school game, I do think it would be funny to see the anachronistic use of some type of "achievement".  Of course, it doesn't need to be an actual server-moderated thing, just a serialized bit-field in the save file of whether or not certain funny things have happened.  And then possibly a screen where you can see them?

Adventure games probably offer the best "reason" for achievements, as there could potentially be lots of funny unknown accomplishments that lend themselves well to the concept.  You have all of the things you are expected to do, we'll call them milestones; so you can grant accomplishments for those, as well as funny interactions with people objects, etc.

Anybody else want to second or jump on the train?

Mattias Gustavsson - Apr 28, 2015 at 03:33
I am not a fan of achievments, but I think something like the scoring system of old Sierra games could be appropriate. You would get points for each successful thing you did, and it was not unusual to finish the game without having reached a full score - going back and playing it again to try and find the things you had missed was part of the fun.

Mathias Berglund - Mar 09, 2015 at 15:13
One suggestion could be to bring the status label to the mousepointer, with the benefit of it also serving as a hotspot indicator. The idea is to free up the statusbar to have tabs on the various playable characters there.

Keeping the status label at mousepointer would probably require a smaller font to not obscure to much of the visible game area.

Steffen - Mar 09, 2015 at 15:33
Ron, what about the auto-suggestion-verb?

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 16:21
Yes, we will have right-click for the default verb, like was in Monkey Island.

Bobe - Mar 09, 2015 at 15:38
Assuming you can/want to use fan ideas:

All the characters have pagers as the first item in their inventory.  To change characters, you page them.  Characters are added as playable as soon as they obtain a pager.

*fits the time period well
*gives a real-world explanation behind character switching
*can be used for a few Easter eggs and gags (e.g. dialing 1138)
*getting paged in certain scenes triggers unique responses (e.g. while in the bathroom)
*after you use the pager a few times, you can just quickly click on it and then the person's name without the game being interrupted
*the Clown's pager isn't real and it's all a figment of his imagination.  It also squirts water.
*running out of battery narrows the focus of the puzzles (i.e. escape the room puzzles where you can't change characters during this time)

My comment is the sole property of Terrible Toybox, Inc.

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 09, 2015 at 18:20
I think you have good ideas.

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 09, 2015 at 16:20
Ron, I suggest we right click on our active character and then we get a thought bubble with faces of the other playable characters and then we just left click on the character we want to switch to.

Tomimt - Mar 09, 2015 at 16:37
How about making the change character an inventory item? Not necessarily an item in the same sense as the other itmes, but an item that would always be on the invetory at the same place, i.e. as the last item on the second row so, that when the inventory is scrolled the change item never moves away?

I think it was in Simon the Sorcerer 1 where accessing the game menu was done by having a postcard in the invetory which you could click.

Andy - Mar 09, 2015 at 16:57
Why not implementing a classical "face book" for 1987 as inventory every character is carrying with.
Only if you meet an other character you will "learn" the possibility to swith to this person.
By "using" this or ""looking at" or  "opening" face book you will get short infos about the person and have the possibilty
to switch to this character.

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 17:13
I like the idea if an inventory item being used to switch characters (like the character music in the NES MM), but it does mean that you're either hunting for the item when you want to switch, or the item is fixed, but that makes scrolling the rest of the inventory wanky.

Dominik - Mar 09, 2015 at 18:18
How about this: One inventory item is used for character switching (as someone else suggested a pager would be a cool item) and every character has one unique item that cannot be given away and is used to further distinguish the characters (Clown: Flower fort squirting water, Detective: Badge, etc.). Both items occupy the First Slots in row 1 and 2, the rest is used normally. That would cope with the scrolling problem.

Rmn - Mar 11, 2015 at 08:04
Maybe the special purpose of a character-switchting item legitimates placing it out of the usual inventory.

For instance, you could shrink the scroll buttons of the inventory a bit (btw: could we scroll using the mouse wheel, or does this ruin the feeling?) in order to place the item underneath them.

In this regard, I also like the pager, and it might be simple and remarkable enough to only use a small sprite for it. Maybe even a two-color icon instead of a real sprite for an inventory item. You could still indicate whether there is the ability to change characters in the current situation or not.

BTW: I really like to see how such a seemingly minor design question, which is practically irrelevant technically, can be really hard to come up with a proper solution for it...

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 09, 2015 at 17:20
Ron, will Thimbleweed Park offer DLC in the future?

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 17:20

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 09, 2015 at 17:37
OK. Too bad, but thank you very much for your reply, Ron! :D I'm now happy!

MrY - Mar 09, 2015 at 23:39
What about shareware?

Brian S - Mar 09, 2015 at 17:58
I was thinking of how your code would work if you initialized with more than 1 flyer in the holder.  I realized you probably shouldn't set the bankFlyerHolder object status to 'EMPTY' unless there's 0 flyers left.  Feel free to flay me for being nitpicky with your experimental code :)

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 18:03
Yes, you are completely right. I've adjusted my code. Although in the final game there will be only one flyer.

KamiKasi - Mar 10, 2015 at 03:13
Hey! No spoilers!! ;)

ac - Mar 09, 2015 at 20:53
The missing TODO list from the post:

- In the original games if you pick up stuff, the character went there, picked it up and then turned around and possibly said something and didn't remain in the spot of the object picken up (to avoid obscuring it).

- Is this game situated in 'backwoods' town / was there a short summary of the place or history of it already posted

- Have some subtle hints that high "assets" to capital ratio, then elsewhere in the game a subtle note indicating that the bank owns some rotting houses or wasteland

- not sure how to make this funny but maybe a conversation option to do investments for some of the characters and then in the end of the game find out that what happened (some sort of zero/negative-sum quip where the characters tell each other about their fortune being on opposite sides of same deal)

Franklin - Mar 09, 2015 at 20:58
Characters in maniac mansion don't move after they pick something up. Doesn't happen in monkey island either. Maybe in some special places.

ac - Mar 09, 2015 at 21:18
Maybe it was some other game then (zak?).
I just think it would look neat if they turned around, took a step toward the player and slightly to side and said something. Atleast when the object they pick would be obscured by them if it was an object that could be operated several times.

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 09, 2015 at 21:48
I wish the comments had time stamps.

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 22:27

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 09, 2015 at 23:46
Thank you, Ron.best! ^_^

longuist - Mar 10, 2015 at 05:06
There goes the anarchy

pumbaa - Mar 10, 2015 at 08:46

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 09, 2015 at 21:58
I wish I could edit comments if they have embarrassing spelling errors.

Marc Müller - Mar 10, 2015 at 03:47
Me, too!

Peter Campbell - Mar 09, 2015 at 23:36
Two questions...

1) Forgive me if this has been asked about and answered before, but will the different playable characters be able to talk to and respond to one another, and give different responses based on the locations they are in, what's going on and how far along the game's story you are?

2) Kind of a silly question, but at 1:06 I see that the Male Detective walks right through the Female Detective, I'm guessing that that's designed to be that way and there won't be any obstructive/unnecessary collision detection between characters?  I think of the original Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy games where you are trying to go into different doors and narrow hallways in towns/castles and there would always be that one freakin' annoying NPC blocking the way and taking forever to move out of the way, often times seeming to do their best job of trolling the player lol.

Ron Gilbert - Mar 09, 2015 at 23:42
1) I don't know yet. That's a good question.
2) There will be NO character collision. It's annoying and doesn't provide any gameplay in an adventure game.

Uli Kusterer - Mar 13, 2015 at 14:29
I agree that collisions are annoying in adventures, and also when used for trolling (though necessary in combat-style games), but I do like when a game pays enough attention to the realism of the game world to add a little animation when two characters would collide that has them evade each other, e.g. by having one turn sideways to let the other pass or so.

Mario - Mar 10, 2015 at 03:26
@RON : the bank is called Telework? i guess you r just testing the area setup.

Marc Müller - Mar 10, 2015 at 03:45
In GTA V the lives of the two characters go on while you are playing the third one. And when you switch to one of those other characters after some time you might find them in totally different places and/or situations as when you left them. I've always liked that idea.

Of course it might be annoying in an adventure to switch to a character and find out he is suddenly in a totally different place and you have to walk him (or her) through half the town to get back where he (or her) has stuff to do when you left him (or her) there in the first place. But there might be potential for some fun based on the location where he (or she) was waiting to be switched back to.

As we switch over we could find characters in a conversation with someone ("...So that's where you can find the fuel for the chainsaw. But now excuse me, I have a feeling I have stuff to do.") or sleeping on the sidewalk (because we left him alone with nothing to do for so long). This doesn't have to happen ALL the time, but now and then it could create the illusion that these characters have lives - even when we are not watching them.

Of course this is an idea you might throw over as soon as you realize how much work it is to come up with those fun situations and all the coding behind it. Wait... I'm not selling this right.

It's stuff like this that makes it more than a game. Think of the potential!

Mattias Cedervall - Mar 10, 2015 at 04:00
I'm inclined to agree with you.

Joost - Mar 10, 2015 at 04:09
GTA is a totally different game. Having the characters' lives go on while you're not playing with them is a GREAT gameplay element for that sort of game, but for an adventure game that makes no sense IMHO.
I want to leave Hoagie just where I left him so that Bernard can flush the wine to him and he can go bury it. I think it'd seriously suck if Hoagie decided on his own to have a chat with George Washington four screens away.

Walt - Mar 10, 2015 at 13:43

Bernie - Mar 10, 2015 at 03:57
Coding adventure game engines is no small task - dialogues, saving room/character states, pathfinding, animated sequences, inventory management... the list goes on. Gotta admire how you got stuff like that up and running on the C64 back then. This is a very interesting blog, thanks for doing this.

KJL3000 - Mar 10, 2015 at 07:29
What about this: a toggle switch or tabs to switch from inventory to characters and back (maybe the inventory box could pop up again when a character has been selected... and a hotkey to toggle the tabs (tab / alt-tab) could speed up things :) Tab Version here: http://i.imgur.com/f9ENSXq.gif ... what do you think? (this comment is a copy of my reply to ron several comments above, so sorry for the double post! ;)

Smalltalk-79 - Mar 10, 2015 at 07:50
WRT character switching: Just rightclick to bring up 2x2 portraits anywhere on the screen.
Default verb should just be on left click whenever you have finished an action and not explicitly selected a new verb.

Great, great blog by the way!
Way more fun and interesting than Doublefines overblown documentary.

pumbaa - Mar 10, 2015 at 08:36
i wanted timestamps. And wanted to complain. No use anymore :)

Ian - Mar 12, 2015 at 14:38
Hey... having a complain button would be a funny thing. Complains would be about a current situation.

PrinzJohnny99 - Mar 10, 2015 at 08:57
Will I be able to run TP on ScummVM? I ask, because I love to play the old Lucasfilm adventures on my Wii on the big screen.

MrY - Mar 10, 2015 at 09:58
TiPpecanoe and Tyler Too!

Flowo1974 - Mar 11, 2015 at 17:08
Most likely not. The team of ScummVM needs to reverse engineer the new engine.

Tomahawk Joe - Mar 10, 2015 at 11:46
I think that showing the selected player's name in, say, the upper left corner of the screen after selection might do it. Maybe along with mapping a showCurrentSelectedPlayerName() sort of function on the 0 key. It sounds enough retro to me, reminds of a "pwd" on a unix terminal.

ac - Mar 10, 2015 at 13:17
I think I read the game is supposed to take place in real world inspired locations. The particular location here is perhaps too real - it looks drab. Maybe where you guys live it's hard to find drab locations but here it's not that hard and one selling point about adventure games to me has been interesting locations, that you just want to play to be able to see the next location/scenery.

So my idea is: either lose the drab or compensate it somehow by replacing ordinary items with either unexpected items or some sort of crazy versions of the ordinary item. eg. here you could have much more interesting painting (and have a character say it looks fake upon inspection if that character had some sort of talent in such) and a talking cuckoo clock.

Pedram - Mar 10, 2015 at 15:33
Brian Moriarty? Do you know whether Brian will do any game in the near future. His stories were one of the best. Anyone played Wishbringer? Is it still worth playing, because I haven't and am thinking about getting it.

PrinzJohnny99 - Mar 11, 2015 at 07:02
Wishbringer was my first (and only) text adventure that I have played through without any help. I later discovered, that Infocom gave it the difficulty rating "n00b", "kiddo", "lame" or something like that. But it was fun and I would strongly recommend it. I played it again some years ago, and you make easy progress, what makes it fun to play.

P.S.: I couldn't answer the seckrit question correctly, so please, can you find something easier?

Brian S - Mar 12, 2015 at 00:27
If you are interested in trying text adventures again, I can recommend the one that reminded me of everything I loved about text-adventures as a kid.  Hunger Daemon, winner of last years IF Comp awards, is short, fun, and well made - meaning the puzzles make sense and you can get through it with a minimum of help.

delMar - Mar 11, 2015 at 06:04
This really starts to "feel" like you "just" need to add some content to get the game done :-)

When watching the video, I was really waiting for one actor handing over the item to the other actor.
Well, I guess that's the cliffhanger for next week's episode? ;-)

delMar - Mar 11, 2015 at 08:41
There was the discussion about "feelies" sometime back during the campaign, IIRC.

As there is no "general" thread on this worlds-greates-dev-blog-ever (man, it really is, no joking), I'll just post the following link about providing feelies in this here thread:

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Mar 12, 2015 at 11:53
You could add another column of verbs:
Turn on
Turn off
New Kid
It will be more Maniac Mansion™ and Zak McKracken™ style (or 1987 style).

Bruygush Weepthrood - Mar 15, 2015 at 03:59
Whatever you do, please don't put overlay graphics in the game area. I was playing Broken Age last weekend, and I kept flipping the inventory list up whenever I wanted to go to the left (they put a tab in the bottom left area).

I do like the idea of the customized UI for each character (could do something interesting with the UI for the clown, for example, like crazy commands that change name or function randomly, etc. - preferably in a way that isn't TOO annoying). I also like the walkie talkie idea, you probably won't switch characters THAT often, and if you need to, you still have the shortcut keys. Having the 4 icons at the right of the inventory works for me too (although I can see myself accidentally clicking them when I wanted to use an inventory item, which would be annoying).

Bruygush Weepthrood - Mar 15, 2015 at 04:02
Walkie talkie or pager, that is.